Walden Farm A Day in the Life of a Volunteer

Le Yuan

A Slice of Sichuanese Serenity

Tomás Giménez

13 August 2016

Coming from the biggest concrete jungle in the world,New York City, I am grateful for the breath of fresh air that is Walden Farm. As a volunteer I have been able to get in contact withthe local Chinese culture and work with the village workers as we strive to  create a more harmonious ˜™and sustainable ˜ relationship with the environment.No one day on the farm is thesame, each with its own challenge and excitements˜.
I wake up each day in a traditional bamboo straw house and grab breakfast with the local village workers during sunrise. After conversing with the Chinese volunteers and finishing my meal, my day begins with whatever task I would like to complete. On Walden Farm I have the freedom ™to choose any job, or even create my own.Having some experience in gardening, I sometimes decide to cut the grass alongsidethe lake and the pool.Although I have done this work before, I have never thought to have recycled the grass and weeds ™that I have just cut. Walden Farm has taught me a new way torecycle the grass—feeding it to the hungry pigs or placing it under the Maple trees as fertilizer.This practice on Walden Farm is just one of many ways how the farm is devoted to ™giving back to nature what it takes from it. The trees look more healthy and the pigs are very happy when I feed them. Truly nothing goes to waste.

After a morning that usually consists of ™some kind of gardening work, I am treated to a delicious Sichuanese lunch. All of the food that we eat on the farm is cultivated and harvested here. I have never tasted such fresh fruit, ginger, garlic, and pork™ before.The food makes all of the hard work worth it. I feel energised after a   healthy meal regardless of a long morning.

In the afternoon I try to do more work with the animals. Even though I cannot speak any Mandarin™, the local village workers are very happy when I show up to help them with feeding™and taking care of the pigs. Theworkers are so kind and try to teach me as much as possible about the animals. I am surprised by the intelligence,™strength and speed of the pigs on the farm. They know exactly when I am about to feed them and come running over screaming ™in excitement. Working with the animals is a true pleasure because I get to see the healthy nutrients ™these animals receive, which end up being healthy for me as well. Keeping the pigs happy and healthy keeps me happy and healthy!

A very interesting system that Walden Farm has developed, which I genuinely admire,is the use of the pig’s waste. The farm has an underground system that collects all of the pig’s wastethen be converted into gas. This gas is used for heating ™and cooking around the farm. The rest of the waste is used as fertilizer ™for the plants around the farm. All the plants grow naturally with no added chemicals™, which keeps the soil healthy and the water clean. This entire process ™creates a verdant farm and a harmonious ecosystem.

During other afternoons I have had the pleasure of harvesting the grapes that have just matured™. This is one of my favorite jobs as I am able to pick the grapes and eat a few as I work; a very sweet and tasty snack for all of my work. It is rewarding to be able to take the fruits, like the grapes, right from the farm and eat them. There are few things more savory than the freshness of the products from Walden Farm. 

Dinner is a wonderful chance to unwind from the day and integrate myself more into Chinese culture. The Lin family often invites me to eat dinner in their family kitchen. 

Although I cannot understand what they talk about, I thoroughly enjoy these meals as I get to taste the delicious food . The family is incredibly hospitable ™and makes me feel part of their family.
After all, on Walden Farm, we are all a team that work together to make the ecosystem healthier and the environment a better place. We all have a common goal ™that unites us—to create harmony between man and environment—regardless of our different cultural backgrounds. I do feel part of the Lin family and the Walden Farm team.

Once the day has come to an end, I enjoy sitting outside of my traditional straw house to gaze at the thousands of stars in the beautiful night sky; a sight that I do not get to experience in New York City. The stars are a reminder of my goal and nature’s way of thanking me for keeping the village clean and healthy. Over the course of the next few weeks I am looking forwardto learning more about this incredible farm, eating more amazing Sichuanese cuisine produced by Walden Farm, and starring into the stars ™as I am reminded of how grateful I am to be part of such a unique project and loving family.